Instacart office is often presented as emblematic of the excesses of the dot-com era, but there was an even bigger flop from the time: Webvan.

Even for the time, Webvan’s rise and fall was swift: The company went from being a $1.2 billion company with 4,500 employees to declaring bankruptcy and liquidating its assets, all in less than three years.

Dreamed up by Louis Borders of Borders Books fame, Webvan sought to do for groceries what Amazon did for books – cut out the brick-and-mortar middle man. Like Amazon, it strove to be more than that though: “You won’t hear us talking about the Internet grocery business,” CEO George Shaheen told USA Today in 1999. “It’s not our endgame.” (Amazon, by the way, bought the Webvan name a few years ago and resurrected it.)

Webvan bet big, which is why its flameout was of nuclear proportions. Yet some 17 years later, it’s worth asking whether the company’s idea for grocery home delivery was really on target. Shaheen certainly thinks so. Last year, the

[Read the full story here ]
Source: Street Fight